Bob Doyel Archives - Florida Politics

Fresh poll: Kelli Stargel leads Bob Doyel by 12 points in SD 22

A new poll of the Senate District 22 race shows state Sen. Kelli Stargel has nearly doubled her lead over Democratic nominee Bob Doyel compared to a month ago.

A new St. Pete Polls survey, conducted Oct. 13-14, found the Lakeland Republican leading Doyel 52-40 percent with 8 percent of voters undecided. That margin was consistent among the 19 percent of voters who said they had already turned in their ballot as well as the 81 percent of voters who said they planned to vote but have not done so yet.

The new results come four weeks after St. Pete Polls last polled the district and show a statistically significant gain for Stargel as well as some minor slippage for Doyel, a retired circuit court judge. The month-old poll pegged the race at 48-41 percent, advantage Stargel.

The Doyel campaign has circulated internal polls showing him leading Stargel, however, those now-stale numbers were never corroborated by any public poll of the race.

Doyel has a little room for growth among the Democratic base, 12 percent of which is still undecided. About 18 percent of Democrats are leaning toward Stargel, however, which is considerable due registered Dems making up a plurality of the Polk County-based district’s electorate.

Likely Republicans voters are in lockstep, preferring Stargel 84-10 percent. Third- and no-party voters are also tilting toward the incumbent by a near 20-point margin.

There’s more good news for Stargel, first elected in 2012, further down the poll. She’s the pick for the majority men, women, white and Hispanic voters, Millennials, Gen Xers and younger Baby Boomers

Doyel, for his part, held a 4-point lead among voters over 70 years old and posted strong results among the few black respondents polled, though black voters only make up about 14 percent of SD 22’s voting age population according to U.S. Census data.

SD 22 covers southern Lake County and northern Polk County and has trended toward GOP candidates in the past despite registered Democrats outnumbering registered Republicans by a couple points.

In the 2016 cycle, Stargel beat underfunded Democrat Debra Wright by a touchdown while President Donald Trump carried the Central Florida seat by nearly the same margin.

Though Doyel has overperformed past Democratic nominees in fundraising, Stargel’s campaign and committee accounts are as flush with cash as ever, and she’s also received significant backup from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, a well-stocked Republican Party-affiliated committee chaired by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano.

To date, Stargel has raised $487,000 in hard money and had $138,250 banked on Oct. 5. She also has $263,000 ready to deploy in her affiliated PAC, Limited Govt for a Stronger Florida Political Committee.

Doyel’s early October finance reports brought him up to $431,000 in total fundraising — $212,500 hard and 218,600 soft. On Oct. 5, the Winter Haven Democrat had $210,500 banked between his campaign account and affiliated political committee, Bring Back Democracy.

Florida Democrats are hoping the so-called ‘blue wave’ can put it and other Republican-held Senate seats in their column come November, though poll results in SD 22 and other targeted districts show waning odds that Democrats can force a tie or take the majority in the state Senate, where Republicans hold a 23-16 advantage with one vacancy.

The St. Pete Polls survey, commissioned by Florida Politics, was conducted via an automated phone call polling system. It received responses from 503 registered voters who said they planned to vote in the general election. The sample was 38 percent Democrats, 38 percent Republicans and 24 percent independents.

The top-line results have a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Former President Barack Obama endorses Andrew Gillum

Is there a bigger ‘get’? President Barack Obama announced Monday he’s supporting Andrew Gillum to become Florida’s first African-American Governor.

“Andrew is a proven fighter with the courage and determination to stand up for Florida families,” Obama said in a statement supporting the Tallahassee Mayor. “As Governor, Andrew will expand access to affordable health care, protect Floridians with pre-existing conditions, invest in education, protect the environment and build an economy that works for all.”

Obama, whose legacy is in part marked by the passage of the Affordable Care Act, commended Gillum’s stances on health care, saying, “Andrew believes that healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and he will make expanding Medicaid a priority on day one as governor.”

Responded Gillum: “As Governor, we’ll build on his legacy by making healthcare a right, not a privilege, investing in our children’s education, and protecting the environment for our future generation of Floridians.”

He also commended Gillum’s tenure as mayor of the state’s capital city.

The former President’s support was announced on Monday in his second wave of midterm election endorsements. Joining Gillum were running mate Chris King and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who also received on Monday the endorsement of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. Rosselló also is expected to endorse Gillum later on Monday.

Other down-ballot candidates also received nods from Obama. According to the former president’s press office, he’s weighed in on 260 midterm races this cycle.

“The Democratic Party has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people when we lead with conviction, principle, and bold, new ideas,” Obama said in a statement announcing the endorsements. “Our incredible array of candidates up and down the ticket, all across the country, make up a movement of citizens who are younger, more diverse, more female than ever before.”

He added that he was “eager to continue making the case for why they deserve our votes this November.”

Also included in the endorsement wave: Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy and Democratic congressional hopefuls Nancy Soderberg, Stephanie MurphyChris Hunter,  Lauren Baer and Debbie MucarselPowell.

Soderberg, who faces Republican Michael Waltz in the race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District, said she was “excited” to have Obama backing her Congressional campaign.

“I am deeply honored to have earned the support of President Obama who has been an extraordinary testament to what we can achieve when we work together to live out our American values,” she said. “President Obama continues to inspire millions in this country and around the world with his vision of and work to build a more inclusive society that enables all of us to reach our full potential.”

In races for state Senate seats, Obama announced endorsements for Sen. Annette Taddeo, along with Senate candidates Kayser Enneking, Janet Cruz, Bob Doyel, Lindsay Cross and David Perez.

In the House, incumbents Margaret Good, Nick Duran and Javier Fernandez received 44’s backing. So too did candidates Anna Eskamani, Fentrice Driskell and Emma Collum.

To Florida House Victory, a the state legislative arm of the Florida Democratic Party, those endorsements signal that the down-ballot races are getting national attention.

“President Barack Obama’s endorsement of Florida House Victory candidates goes to show that the success of Democrats in the state House is a crucial part of moving Florida forward,” said Marisol Samayoa, spokesperson for Florida House Victory. “As a former state legislator himself, President Obama recognizes the role that legislatures can play as the first line of defense against Republican attacks on health care, public education, and the environment.”

Kelli Stargel leads Bob Doyel by a touchdown in SD 22

Despite Democratic challenger Bob Doyel touting internal poll numbers showing him leading Republican state Sen. Kelli Stargel, the first public poll of the SD 22 general election shows Stargel with an outside-the-margin lead in her re-election bid.

A new St. Pete Polls survey, conducted Sunday, found Stargel up by 7 percentage points among registered voters who said they planned to vote in the general election. The 48-41 percent lead for Stargel comes about a month after Doyel, a retired circuit court judge, circulated an internal poll showing him with a 45-40 lead as well as decent name ID within the district.

Stargel received more than 80 percent support from registered Republicans and held a 45-39 percent lead among unaffiliated and third-party voters. Doyel’s support among SD 22 Democrats was less robust, with 71 percent backing him, 17 percent supporting Stargel and 12 percent undecided.

Stargel’s lead reached 20 points among white voters, who make up about two-thirds of SD 22’s voting age population. Doyel was far ahead among black and Hispanic voters. The sample size for those demographics, however, was small.

By age, Stargel holds 9-point edge among 18- to 29-year-olds and leads by 8 percentage points among the 50- to 69-year-old bracket. The race was tighter among Gen Xers and the over 70 crowd, the former of which preferred Stargel by a 44-40 percent margin and the latter of which broke toward her 46-41 percent.

Doyel trailed by double digits among men, though the race is much tighter among women, who only are only leaning toward Stargel by 2 points, 45-43 percent.

SD 22 covers southern Lake County and northern Polk County and has trended toward GOP candidates in the past despite registered Democrats outnumbering registered Republicans by a couple points.

Florida Democrats are hoping the ‘blue wave’ can put it and other Republican-held Senate seats in play come November, though like in most other FDP-targeted districts, there’s a large fundraising disparity between the GOP and Democratic nominees.

Doyel was challenged by former state Rep. Ricardo Rangel in the Aug. 28 primary and spent a large amount of cash ahead of the 66-34 percent rout. Heading into September, he had about $92,500 in hard money $31,350 in his political committee, Bring Back Democracy.

Through the same date, Stargel had just shy of $240,000 in her campaign account with another $215,250 banked in her affiliated political committee, Limited Govt for a Stronger Florida.

In the 2016 cycle, Stargel scored a 7-point win over underfunded and overmatched Democrat Debra Wright. President Donald Trump also carried the district by nearly the same margin.

The St. Pete Polls survey was conducted by an automated phone call polling system on Sept. 16. It received responses from 569 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Democratic Progressive Caucus backs Pam Keith, Bob Doyel

The Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida on Friday helped bolster the liberal credentials for Pam Keith‘s Congressional campaign and for more than 35 other politicians running for state and local office this year.

The newest round of endorsements includes backing Keith over Lauren Baer in the Democratic primary in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

Keith, who two years ago finished third in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, still lags in the money race behind Baer, who has more than $1 million in cash on hand compared to Keith’s $68,000.

Keith celebrated the endorsement Friday and said “pro-people” policy should win the day.

The winner will go up against freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, a Stuart Republican who right now boasts just under $2 million in cash on hand.

The contest is shaping up to be one of Florida’s more competitive Congressional races in the fall, though the major analysts still give Mast an edge. Cook Political Report rates the race “Lean Republican” and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball lists the district as “Likely Republican.”

The Progressive Caucus also backed Bob Doyel, a Winter Haven Democrat running in Senate District 22, over Ricardo Rangel. Doyel’s the heavy favorite in this Democratic primary, having raised nearly $112,000 to Rangel’s $6,100.

The Democrat who wins the Aug. 28 primary will face incumbent state Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican who has more than $311,000 raised in her re-election effort.

In Senate District 8, the Progressive Caucus didn’t take a primary side in the Gainesville district and offered its endorsement to both Democrats, Kayser Enneking and Olysha Magruder.

Right now, Enneking holds the edge on donations, with upward of $324,000 raised compared to Magruder’s nearly $29,000.

The Democratic primary winner in District 8 will go up against Republican incumbent Keith Perry, who faces no primary challenge and boasts $450,000 in contributions.

The full list of Progressive Caucus endorsements for 2018 can be found here.

Florida Democrats say ‘no GOP seat is safe’ in 2018

A record number Democratic candidates qualified for state races this week, and the Florida Democratic Party said now it’s time to prepare for the “Blue Wave.”

“From the Gubernatorial race, to State House and Senate, to county commissioners and mayors, we have the most qualified, committed, and exciting group of candidates we have ever seen,” said FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo.

“We have a record number of people who have stepped up to run, and what this shows us is that no GOP seat is safe. After nearly 20-years of all-Republican rule, Floridians are fed-up with economic policies that don’t benefit working families, they are tired of their children’s education being shortchanged, and they are tired of leaders who have failed to take action on everything from gun violence prevention to climate change.”

Rizzo also touted a record-breaking 82 Democratic women making the ballot for state legislative races.

“Women will be the difference in 2018, I do truly believe that. They are instrumental to the success of the Democratic Party, and they feel more empowered than ever to take their future into their own hands by running for office,” she said.

It’s too early to tell whether Democrats can crack the GOP’s hold on state government by flipping the Governor’s Mansion, or possibly even the state Senate, but now that the title cards are set it’s clear heretofore underdogs’ strategy is more reminiscent of Rocky than Glass Joe.

Republicans currently hold a 23-16 advantage in Florida Senate, with one vacancy. Democrats plan to take the chamber back has been clear for months — flip Tampa Bay and field fresh, credible challengers in Gainesville-based SD 8, Lakeland-based SD 22 and Miami-Dade-based SD 36. Win five, win the Senate.

On the Tampa Bay front, Democrats have recruited House Minority Leader Janet Cruz to challenge Republican Sen. Dana Young in SD 18; former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy to take on former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper in SD 16, and trial attorney Carrie Pilon to challenge St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes in SD 24. None of those races will be easy, but the 2018 crop of candidates is certainly more competitive than in 2016.

In SD 8, the party likes its odds with Kayser Enneking, and she’s done her part by pulling in a respectable amount of cash for her campaign. Incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry still leads her in fundraising, but not by near the margin found in the Tampa races.

The fundraising gap and Republican lean is more significant in SD 22, where former circuit court judge Bob Doyel is challenging Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel. He’s a much more formidable opponent however than the 2016 Democratic nominee, Debra Wright, who to her credit still came within 7 points despite being outspent 20-to-1.

Time will tell on David Perez’ bid against Republican Rep. Manny Diaz in SD 36. Diaz is a popular and very well-funded, and Perez has only been in the race for a couple of weeks.

While the Senate roadmap is known, Florida Democrats have been less direct about their overall strategy to chip away at the GOP’s sizable majority in the House.

Republicans currently have a stranglehold on the chamber, which is split 76-41 with three vacancies. Two of those empty seats are Republican locks, and the third was a gimme for Democrats — congrats to Boynton Beach Democrat Joseph Casello, who was elected to HD 90 without opposition Friday.

At 42 seats, the party is still a dozen from the number that went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and in 2018 the strategy in the lower chamber reflects a familiar adage: “You must be present to win.”

To that end, Democrats are fielding a candidate in over 100 districts, a marked increase from the 63 Democrats who took a shot in 2016. And it’s not all quantity over quality — a cursory glance the 95 House races that weren’t decided Friday jogs the memory on some of the strong candidates running under the Democratic Party banner.

In Orlando’s HD 47, Anna Eskamani has strong odds to flip the seat vacated by Republican Rep. Mike Miller. In Broward-based HD 93, Emma Collum has a genuine chance to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. George Moraitis. And in perennial target HD 63, Fentrice Driskell is raising cash and landing endorsements as she aims to unseat Tampa Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison.

Even in some districts previously thought of as moonshots, some real-deal candidates have shown up and gotten to work. In Sarasota’s HD 74, for instance, Tony Mowry is confident he can hand James Buchanan his second defeat of the year in a traditionally Republican seat. Tracye Polson is matching her GOP opponents in fundraising in her bid to flip HD 15, the seat vacated by Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jay Fant.

Dennis Baxley, Dorothy Hukill and Kelli Stargel avoid primaries in Central Florida state Senate runs

Republican state Sens. Dennis Baxley, Dorothy Hukill, and Kelli Stargel all managed to avoid Republican primaries as they seek re-elections in their Central Florida districts this fall.

With qualifying for the ballot closed at noon and nearly all the elections officially updated to final status, Baxley of Ocala, whose Senate District 12 covers Lake County and a broad swath of West Central Florida, will be in a showdown with Democrat Gary McKechnie of Mount Dora in November. Both qualified for the ballot, as did a write-in candidate.

In Senate District 14, covering much of the Space Coast, Hukill of Port Orange is in, as is Democratic challenger Mel Martin of Cocoa. Another Democrat, Brandon Maggard, appears to have dropped out as he has not filed any paperwork in months. But the Florida Division of Elections was slow Friday updating some races and still listed Maggard as “active” after 5 p.m. Friday, even though qualifying closed at noon Friday.

In District 22, covering Polk County and part of Lake County, Stargel, of Lakeland will get the winner of a Democratic primary. Former Circuit Judge Bob Doyel of Winter Haven and former state Rep. Ricardo Rangel of Auburndale will be battling in the August 28 Democratic primary for that honor.

Kelli Stargel

Florida retailers endorse Kelli Stargel for re-election

Florida retailers are endorsing Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel’s re-election for Senate District 22.

Florida Retail Federation President/CEO R. Scott Shalley said in an announcement Monday: “In her role as Senate Finance & Tax Chair this past year, Senator Stargel showed continued leadership in her support of Florida’s retailers by including in the tax package a reduction in the business rent tax and multiple sales tax holidays. We’re thankful for her partnership in ensuring the growth of the retail industry and look forward to finding new ways to support the industry when she returns to the Senate.”

Reducing the commercial lease sales tax has been a top priority for FRF and other business groups for years. The tax package signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott this year reduced the tax rate from 5.8 percent to 5.7 percent.

In its endorsement, FRF also highlighted accolades Stargel has received from other interest groups, including the Foundation for Florida’s Future A+ Award and the Florida Farm Bureau Champion for Agriculture Award.

Stargel is running for re-election against former circuit court judge Bob Doyel and former Rep. Ricardo Rangel, both Democrats.

SD 22 has a Republican lean, but Democrats are hoping the “blue wave” can put it and other Republican-held Senate seats in play come November. In the 2016 cycle, Stargel scored a 7-point win over Democrat Debra Wright after outspending her 20-to-1. President Donald Trump also carried the district by nearly the same margin.

Through May, Stargel had a firm lead in the money race. She is also expected to get some reinforcements from incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, who is hosting a fundraiser for her in Bradenton next month.

Bob Doyel raises $8,900 for SD 22 bid in May

Winter Haven Democrat Bob Doyel raised $8,916 in May for his bid to unseat Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel in Senate District 22.

The retired circuit court judge received that cash via 66 contributions, the majority of them coming in from individuals giving $100 or less. About half of Doyel’s May contributions came from within the confines of the district, which covers northern Polk County and southern Lake County.

His top donor of the month was “Floridians for Ethics, Accountability and Responsibility,” a political committee tied to South Florida Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer.

Following that were a half-dozen $500 checks, including one from Lakeland law firm DiCesare, Davidson & Barker. Further down on the report was a $100 check from the Lakeland branch of the United Food & Commercial Workers.

Expenditures came in at about $14,500 last month. More than half of that tally paid the salary of campaign manager Trinity Laurino, an experienced digital marketing and fundraising expert and a former CNN producer who has been working for the campaign for several months.

Also on the ledger was a $2,166 payment to St. Petersburg-based Democratic consulting firm Blue Ticket Consulting and a $1,850 payment to direct mail/printing experts Street Smartz Consulting.

With May in the books, Doyel has raised just over $92,000 since filing for the race one year ago. That total includes $7,500 worth of loans Doyel used to kickstart his campaign in the early going. He started June with a little over $50,000 in the bank.

Doyel will have to dispatch former state Rep. Ricardo Rangel in the Democratic primary before he can get a shot at Stargel.

The Auburndale Democrat had not filed his May campaign finance report as of Wednesday afternoon, though as of April 30 he had shown about $5,000 in contributions for the six weeks he’d been in the race.

Both Democrats trail Stargel by a mile. Through April, she had raised $183,600 for her campaign and had $133,600 banked. She is also expected to get some reinforcements from incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, who is hosting a fundraiser for her in Bradenton next month.

SD 22 has a Republican lean, but Democrats are hoping the “blue wave” can put it and other Republican-held Senate seats in play come November. In the 2016 cycle, Stargel scored a 7-point win over Democrat Debra Wright after outspending her 20-to-1. President Donald Trump also carried the district by nearly the same margin.

Kelli Stargel

Kelli Stargel revs up campaign with $36K take in April

Republican state Sen. Kelli Stargel put her foot on the gas somewhat in raising money in April for her re-election campaign in Florida Senate District 22, bringing in $36,850.

The haul is Stargel’s largest yet in the 2018 campaign cycle, marks the first significant fundraising month for her campaign since last October, and was tops among all Florida Senate candidates in Central Florida, from Lake County to Brevard County, and Volusia County to Osceola County.

Stargel’s April fundraising was highlighted by $1,750 from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign and 28 checks, mostly from political action committees and businesses, for the maximum $1,000 donation, including three from different Walt Disney World entities.

Stargel, of Lakeland, now has raised $183,583, and entered May with $133,614 in cash reserves.

SD 22 covers parts of northern Polk and southern Lake counties, including part of the Four Corners community at Walt Disney World’s backdoor.

Her chief rival, retired Circuit Court Judge Bob Doyel of Winter Haven, who had out-raised  Stargel’s campaign the past three months, as she lost fundraising time during the Florida Legislative Session, reported raising $11,069 in April. His campaign entered May with $75,650 still in the bank.

Fellow Democrat former state Rep. Ricardo Rangel of Auburndale reported raising $3,010 in April, and entering May with $3,467 in the bank.

In District 14, Republican state Sen. Dorothy Hukill brought in $27,750 in campaign contributions in April for her re-election bid.

The take brought Hukill’s total campaign fundraising to $148,400 and left her with just under $100,000 left in the bank for her re-election campaign for SD 14, covering southern Volusia and northern Brevard counties..

Democrat Melissa Martin of Cocoa  reported raising just $1,689, but also loaned $2,000 to her campaign in April. That brought her total raised to $28,106, and left her with $24,750 in cash reserves at the beginning of May. A second Democrat, Brandon Maggard of Cocoa, entered the race in April but did not file any financial reports.

In Senate District 12, Republican state Sen. Dennis Baxley of Ocala did not raise much, but still nearly doubled his Democratic opponent in April. Baxley raised $6,100, and entered May with $112,482 in the bank. Democrat Gary McKechnie of Mount Dora reported raising $3,262 in April, and came into May with $22,788 in cash.

Looking ahead to 2020 races, Republican state Sen. Travis Hutson raised $4,250 for his re-election in District 7, covering north Volusia County on up into St. Augustine; Republican state Sen. Debbie Mayfield raised $4,000 for her re-election in District 17, covering south Brevard County and the north Treasure Coast; state Rep. Jason Brodeur reported raising $1,000 in his bid for the open seat of Senate District 9 in Seminole County; and Democratic state Sen. Linda Stewart reported picking up $700 for her re-election in District 13, in central and east Orange County. Neither Democratic state Sen. Randolph Bracy of District 11, in west Orange County, nor Democratic state Sen. Victor Torres of District 15, in south Orange County and Osceola County, reported raising any money last month for their 2020 re-election bids.

Kelli Stargel

Kelli Stargel announces May 15 fundraiser for SD 22 re-election

Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel is holding a fundraiser benefitting her Senate District 22 re-election campaign on May 15 in Clermont.

The event will take place at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards, 19239 U.S. 27th North, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. The invite promises “hors d’ oeuvres, wine and live entertainment.” The minimum contribution to attend is $100.

Those looking for more information, or to RSVP can contact Beth Babington at (407) 687-8739 or

Stargel was elected to the Florida Senate in 2012, and is running for her final term in the fall. She was thought to be eyeing a run in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, but shut down those rumors shortly after they sprouted.

The Lakeland Republican is currently unopposed in the Republican Primary, though Democrats Bob Doyel and former state Rep. Ricardo Rangel are competing for a chance to unseat her – an uphill battle unless a “blue wave” of epic proportions hits the Central Florida district.

In the 2016 race, the Republican-leaning district delivered Stargel a 7-point win over Democrat Debra Wright. President Donald Trump also carried the district by nearly the same margin.

Through March, Stargel had a substantial fundraising lead, with nearly $147,000 raised and $104,000 on hand in her campaign account.

Doyel, a retired circuit court judge, is in the No. 2 spot with $72,000 raised and $56,400 on hand. His campaign has ramped up in recent weeks, with the announcement of several local endorsements and an outreach effort including an online question-and-answer session.

Rangel, who filed in March, has raised a little over $2,000, while unaffiliated candidate Ryan Morales showed $0 raised in his first report.

The fundraiser invite is below.

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